15 injured in Tarai clashes

Itahari, February 23:

Fifteen persons were injured in clashes, while life in Tarai districts remained crippled as the bandh called by the United Madhes Democratic Front (UMDF) entered the 11th day today.

UMDF men vandalised shops and clashed with police in Inaruwa, the district headquarters of Sunsari. Police fired two rounds in the air to disperse them. UMDF men vandalised a Biratnagar-bound ambulance at the Buddha Chowk of Simariya 2 in Sunsari, police said.

Sunsari chief district officer Prem Narayan Sharma said curfew has been clamped from Khanar of Sunsari to Budhikhola of Dubahi to facilitate the entry of oil tankers and trucks carrying LPG. Curfew imposed two days ago is still in force up to one kilometre on either side of the East-West highway from Itahari to Koshi Barrage and adjoining areas between 9 pm and 9 am.

UMDF activists clashed with police in Janakpur of Dhanusha district. Ten agitators were injured in police action. Wielding homemade weapons, UMDF men staged a rally in Rajbiraj. The Siraha district administration has clamped curfew from 9 pm to 5 am up to two kilometres on either side of the East-West highway adjoining Balan River in the east and Kamala River in the west. Agitators padlocked the district customs office at Madar.

The situation normalised in Nepalgunj of Banke district after the district administration decided to ease curfew till 10 pm. However, bazaars did not open due to the ongoing UMDF agitation. No clashes were reported, but agitators burnt effigies of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula and other leaders.

The Morang district administration clamped curfew in Biratnagar sub-metropolis from 8 pm to 4 am. Last night, miscreants had vandalised over a dozen shops and houses in Biratnagar and went on a looting spree in Gangabhagat Mill, Thakur Saloon, Asma Tailors, Pandit Tea Shop and Baby Bora Gaddi. They broke open the locks of shops and houses and made off with cash and kind.

In Rautahat district, five persons were injured in ensuing police action. Police swung into action as various pro-UMDF women’s organisations and Madhes Media Mission staged a demonstration in Gaur, Rautahat’s headquarters, and tried to torch an effigy of PM Koirala.

The Bara Chambers of Commerce and Industries and media persons staged separate demonstrations in Kalaiya expressing solidarity with the UMDF bandh.

Bara chief district officer Kamlesh Kumar Sinha said curfew imposed along the Bara-Pathlaiya road section and the Bara-Birgunj road section from Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd in Simra to Parsa district’s Birgunj entry point had been lifted. Curfew imposed from 8 am in Parsa district was lifted at 6.30 pm. Parsa chief district officer Bhola Prasad Shivakoti said the decision to lift the curfew was taken after a meeting of the district security committee. Police released 61 persons who had been detained for defying curfew.

In Malangawa, the headquarters of Sarlahi district, locals staged a demonstration to express solidarity with the UMDF and took out a rally shouting slogans like “Tarai people unite” and “Madhesi-Pahadi bhai bhai”.